PARIS: Seven men, including the ex-presidents of Nimes and Caen football clubs, were found guilty on Thursday of trying to fix French Ligue 2 matches in 2014.
Jean-Marc Conrad, a former co-owner and club president at Nimes, and Serge Kasparian, the club’s majority shareholder at the time, were both sentenced to three years in prison, of which 18 months is suspended, and fined 50,000 euros ($58,000) in a case built around police telephone taps.
Former Caen president Jean-Francois Fortin was given a 15-month suspended sentence and fined 15,000 euros for passive bribery.
Conrad and Kasparian were found guilty of trying to fix several matches at the end of the 2013/14 season to help Nimes avoid relegation to the French third tier, aided by an intermediary, Franck Toutoundjian.
Toutoundjian was sentenced to one year in prison, with another year suspended, and fined 5,000 euros.
Three other men suspected of having acted as intermediaries received suspended sentences and fines of up to 10,000 euros.
The seven men found guilty were also all banned from football for five years.
Two of the nine accused, including Abdelnasser Ouadah, a former Algerian international who retired in 2011, were cleared.
All nine had pleaded not guilty.
“We will think about an appeal,” said Xavier Savignat, one of Kasparian’s lawyers.
The accused were not charged with altering the outcomes of games but of attempting to do so.
The court found that the defendants tried, without success, to fix five Nimes matches — a 0-0 draw with bottom club Bastia, a 5-1 defeat by Dijon and then 1-1 draws against Brest, Caen and Creteil.
Nimes eventually finished 15th in the 20-team division and avoided relegation by eight points.
The draw with Caen on May 13, 2014, also helped the Norman club ensure they finished in the top three and were promoted.
The police recordings included a string of ambiguous phases and constant references to “arrangements”. The accused insisted these were insider jokes or offered very personal definitions of the word “arrangement”.
In 2014, the Canard Enchaine weekly published a transcript of a telephone conversation between Fortin and Conrad which it said was made by police.
In the recording, Fortin says: “You need a point as well?” Conrad replied: “Yes, we need a point too, there it is.” The Caen president then says: “Well, if we are not too stupid?”
The weekly said that 24 boxes of wine, totalling 288 bottles, were left outside the Caen dressing room after the game.
Both clubs now play in the French top flight after Nimes’ promotion last season.—AFP